Dental practices are bombarded almost daily with SEO pitches (e.g., “We can guarantee you page 1 rankings!” Or, “Did you know your ranking is terrible because of your site structure?”)
The following info will cut through all the sales mumbo jumbo you are bombarded with by dental SEO companies. It will help you understand what’s really important about SEO, and how to go about aligning your dental website with the best practices offered by actual search engines.
What is SEO for Dental Practices and Why Does it Matter?
Dental SEO in Simple Terms
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of making your dental practice website more visible to people who are searching for dental services online. SEO efforts include optimizing the website’s content, code, and structure to help search engines (e.g., Google) understand what your dental website is about and, hopefully, rank it higher in search results. Keyword research, creating high-quality content, and coding your website for speed and mobile-friendliness are common SEO efforts. In short, anything that optimizes your site for visibility, usability, and conversion is search engine optimization.
SEO is Critical for Successful Dental Marketing
The purpose of Dental Marketing is to connect current and potential patients with your practice. Because the vast majority of people turn to search engines when looking for a product or service (including dentistry) it is critical for your practice website to rank well in these searches. When your site ranks well you are multiple times more visible online than you would be with a poor ranking website (or no dental website). This visibility leads to increased traffic to your website. These increased visitors to your website in turn increase your opportunities to win new patients.
The Primary Benefits of Dental SEO Marketing
Increase Online Visibility
As mentioned above, most people look for a product or service online. Great SEO on your dental practice website makes you much more visible to potential patients who are searching. Even if the searcher does not decide on a dentist at that moment, they may recognize your practice name later when they are deciding after having seen you online. The point is to make yourself visible when people are looking.
Attract More Ideal Patients
At DentalCMO, we don’t like using “new patients” as the metric of dental marketing success. Attracting 100 people that come for a free cleaning and never seeing them again is not a marketing win in our book. However, attracting ideal patients for priority treatments you would like to provide is winning. Great dental SEO helps your website rank well and get found when people are searching for these priority treatments (like implants, ortho, sleep apnea, etc).
Most traditional advertising is bound by time constraints. A billboard will only be good for as long as you pay for the space. A mailer will only be seen once by most people it is sent to. A radio ad or tv ad will only be played for the number of times you pay for. But optimized pages on your website can rank well for years and be seen by almost anyone searching for treatments that you offer. Depending on the competitiveness of your market, you might be able to invest once in SEO and feel the benefits for many years to come.
Because of the volume of potential patients that search online for a dentist, ranking well not only means your practice is more visible, but it also means your competitors are less visible. This is a significant competitive advantage and points to why successful dental practices are willing to invest so much time and resources into quality search engine optimization efforts.
Top SEO Priorities for Your Dental Practice
Write Unique and Helpful Content
Copying and pasting copy about dental services from other dental websites is terrible for your SEO. The search engines are not fans of plagiarism and it is very easy for them to track. Your copy on your website must be written uniquely for your practice. And that’s tedious! And that’s exactly why many SEO companies don’t want to do it. It’s hard work.
Not only must your website content be unique, it should also include researched keywords that people in your market are searching for. This sends a strong signal to the search engines that your dental website copy is unique, relevant, and helpful.
Build a Technically-sound Website
In order to have a competitive, high-ranking dental website, several technical factors must be accounted for:
- Speed: Your website must load and navigate quickly. People want answers, and they want them fast. Slow load times lead to high bounce rates.
- Structure: The code behind your site must be clean, lightweight, and precise
- Formatting: Make sure that assets on your site are no bigger than they must be to maintain fast load speeds. Try to code as many design elements as possible instead of including designed graphics. Include keyword rich copy about the treatment on the first loaded part of your page, on every page.
- Meta Information: Be strategic in your code with things like your page description, title tags, H tags, and so on
- Content Organization: Search Engines rank you more highly when you make their job easy. Properly organize the information on your site about your practice and treatments by following an intuitive hierarchy and breaking apart services into individual pages.
- Security: Search engines will warn website visitors if your site is not secure. This is a strong deterrent for most searchers.
Build a Beautiful and Engaging Website
Think of your website as your digital front office. Make it clean, inviting and pleasant. This will indicate to your practice website visitors that they can expect a similar delightful experience when they visit your physical location. Also, dental websites are a great place to make use of dynamic content types. Animations, videos, and gorgeous graphic design work together to create an engaging experience for your visitors. This engagement results in more time spent on your pages and navigating through them. This activity is rewarded by search engines with higher rankings.
Focus on Your Targeted Geography
In years past it was a good practice to include every town and city for which you wished to be found in your footer and page content. Not anymore. This practice dilutes the strength of your location signal now. Keep your website copy focused on your town. If you do a great job on this and keep optimizing your site and practice reviews, your practice will start showing up for searchers in neighboring areas because of how relevant your site is online.
Build High-quality Backlinks
Another signal Google weighs in their algorithm is the number of “quality” backlinks your dental practice website gets from other relevant websites. You can write articles for ally’s websites and link back to you. Or do a guest blog post. There are many ways to build quality links to your site. And these links will help you rankings.
Go Deep on Priority Treatments
The more quality content you add to a dental treatment page (same-day crowns for instance), the stronger signal you are sending to search engines that you are an authority on that subject and that your site provides the best answers when people are researching said treatment. Even though volume is great, make sure you keep the copy easy-to-navigate, helpful, and visually appealing.
Who Does The Best Dental SEO?
SEO is a complex and constantly changing field. An experienced SEO team has already made and learned from their mistakes. Don’t let a newbie learn on your dime. The loss and expense to your business can be much more than the amount you paid to the inexperienced SEO practitioner. There are several questionable SEO practices that if done to your site, can hurt your dental practice.
A quality dental SEO team stays up to date with SEO trends and techniques AND know how to execute them correctly to achieve the best results. Google regularly updates their search algorithm to reward websites that provide rich, useful content to searchers. These algorithm updates also penalize websites that have tried to game the system with questionable SEO practices.
One of the most significant factors in your practice website’s rank is the written content (copy) filling the pages of your website. If your SEO group does not understand dentistry or what sets one practice apart from another, then you will end up having to write the copy yourself. And the problem therein is that most likely you don’t have deep knowledge of writing optimized copy for ranking well in search results. Work with an SEO professional that knows both. They understand dentistry and can communicate the value of your services effectively. They will also know the best practices for writing copy for your site that ranks well.
Fit Your Budget
The sky’s the limit for pricing when it comes to SEO. The reason for that is because you can always keep adding to your site. A reputable SEO group will be able to perform an effective market assessment and lay out a viable plan and budget to reach your online visibility goals. Understand that the more competitive your market, the more effort (and expense) it will take to reach the top in search results. Monthly rates may range from $300/mo–$3000/mo depending on your market and objectives.
Beware of groups that advertise three arbitrary tiers (or however many) of SEO offerings. You have probably either heard of, or experienced yourself groups that charge a monthly fee for SEO and don’t seem to be doing much, or anything, for that fee. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case.
You Like Working with Them
This is often overlooked. But it’s so much nicer to work with people you actually like. Of course the SEO group needs to get results to justify the ongoing investment. But being able to look forward to and enjoy your status meetings with your SEO group is a huge added bonus.
SUMMARY & CLOSE
Dentists are so bombarded with SEO sales pitches that they often just tune them out, assuming they are all the same or just too much of a stress to worry about. Totally understandable. The sad truth is that many service providers do take advantage of dental practices. However, there ARE reputable dental SEO groups that do great work at affordable rates. And yes, it can make a huge contribution to your overall dental marketing results.
Schedule a consult with DentalCMO today to see if we offer a good solution for your SEO needs.